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Band of the Week: Harvey Pekar 

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Photo by Ruben Anree’ Polo

MEET THE BAND: Elliott Frank (guitar), Ian Douglas (drums), Nick Kratsas (vocals), Nick Schmitt (bass)

GIVING IT A GO: Friends since grade school, guitarist Elliott Frank and singer Nick Kratsas originally met bassist Nick Schmitt outside the punk club Now That's Class and approached him about starting up a band. "That was right after the band I had been in for a long time had broken up," says Frank. "I wanted to do music but was more interested in playing guitar. Nick Kratsas and I had been friends since we were 5. We wanted to put together something that we could make an honest go of." Though Frank and Kratsas never met the late comic-book writer Harvey Pekar, they decided upon the band name because it references their childhood experiences hanging out at comic book shops.

LINEUP CHANGES: The band's subsequently had a few lineup changes over the years. "There used to be a time when we'd go through a lineup change, and it would freak me out," says Frank. "Now, I just think the band is really nice because we've gotten to play with so many great people. We're fortunate enough to continue to find people who want to do this and every time a new person enters the picture, it makes the band better for it."

KEEPING BUSY: The group initially issued a self-released EP, Thirty Ghosts, which it recorded locally at Brain Child Recording Studios in Lakewood. The guys followed it up with Upward, Not Northward, which they also recorded at Brainchild Records, and with 2016's The Astral We. Since forming, the band has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada, sharing the stage with such bands as Defeater, A Wilhelm Scream, Code Orange, Such Gold, Idles, Birds in Row and Knocked Loose.

A STEADFAST APPROACH: The group recorded the songs on its latest album, Paris Green, without a record deal. Produced and engineered by Ryan Foltz (Dropkick Murphys, Rancid) at Cleveland Audio, the disc draws from Cleveland punk rock and hardcore acts such as Integrity, 9 Shocks Terror and Dead Boys. The band was also recently tapped as one of four recipients of a 2019 Panza Foundation grant. After shopping the record, it inked a deal with locally based Steadfast Records, which released it earlier this month.

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: A real scorcher, album opener "Predation in Shadow Position" features a Fugazi-like vibe as it includes a mid-song breakdown of sneering spoken vocals. "Glow Aplomb" is a bit more melodic, and a gritty guitar riff drives "Coup Ensemble." "I think more than any record we've put out so far, we pushed ourselves to do things outside of our comfort zone," says Frank. "This record has some things that are not necessarily direction opposite but further afield from what we've done." There are even synthesizers on the album for the first time.

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: facebook.com/harveypekarohio/

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Harvey Pekar performs with Pillars, Heart and Lung, and Minority Threat at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, at Now That's Class.

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